How did you come up with the name of your studio?
I’m supremely inspired by nature and how each element of the habitat is designed. There is a reason for each detail which sets the context for a living and non-living. How the science and art of design keeps the planet functioning. And that essentially enabled our ethos. Hence, when it came to naming our work, it had to be – “It’s All About Design”. In short STUDIO IAAD.
What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go.
I just wanted to do this. Always!
And it happened at a time when I got admission into St. Stephens College in Delhi University, since, my parents wanted me to pursue Science. And like any responsible child, getting matured under the secured shadow of her parents, takes a plunge on her own accord, not because the parents wanted her to, but because she thought in her mind, that she’s good enough. I guess, in this case, I was this child. And I quit Stephens to join TVB School of Habitat.
After graduating, when I saw my first project taking shape and come to life, it reinforced my belief in my passion – This is it!
What kind of projects were you doing when you first started as a designer?
I worked for over a decade before I decided to branch out and launch StudioIAAD. I started out with a boutique residence in collaboration with my professors, and later on, went on to explore typologies. I was fortunate enough to get the exposure and experience in an established as well as an emerging sector. While the corporate houses, commercial complexes, big and boutique residential projects were given at the time, multiplexes were taking shape around then. Our studio has had a long-term professional relationship with PVR Cinemas, having designed over 36 projects for them. This combination has worked very well for both us and the client since PVR embodies the true essence of public and commercial spaces with a boutique mindset.
What field of design are you most interested in?
I have been experimental from the initial years of my professional study. Improvement through design intervention always intrigued me. Today as well, for us, the design is all-encompassing. As a studio, we are open to everything that design has to offer. We are more interested in Crafting design narratives that conjure a sensorial and memorable spatial experience — one that finds its roots firmly embedded in the purity and integrity of design values.
What is your favourite book/magazine on design? How about your favourite site?
While I would love to read as many as possible, two of my favourites are ‘Wallpaper’ and ‘Detail’.
What is your Signature Style?
Our strength lies in the fact that we do not have a signature style. Every project is different, depending on the functionality and the client. The project belongs to the client, and hence, the signature is theirs and not ours.
Our approach towards design envisions the clients as key collaborators, wherein their aspirations mesh ubiquitously into the construct and narrative of any space. Our work ethos has been developed around the courage to take up challenges and to be innovative while maintaining purity and integrity in our designs. Because for us, It’s All About Design.
What inspires you to thrive in this industry? Which piece of architecture inspires you the most?
The most important factor that helps one thrive is self-criticism of their work. No project is ever ‘perfect’, there is always scope for improvement. There are always parts of a project that one has not thought of- it is those things that need retrospection and introspection from time to time.
From your point of view, is design an art or a science?
Science is functional and giving it an expression or articulation or language is Art. Hence, design can never be singular. It will assume both – science and art. And a successful design meets the expectations of the user most optimally.
If you had no limits (money, resources), what would you create?
If given a chance, we would like to redesign all the above-ground metro stations in Delhi. These stations could have been a start point for sensitive architecture, paving the way for more responsive and user-friendly public spaces.
What advice do you have for young designers or architects reading this interview?
The most important thing while designing is to put the right energy into your project. Design with your heart. There is a thin line between ‘inspired by’ and ‘rip-offs’ in design. And what sets a designer apart is their ‘originality’. It is crucial, to be honest to your passion and design.
The spokesperson is Rachna Agarwal, Founder, Design Ideator, Studio IAAD